Another summer has come and gone, and with it the newest edition of Football Manager comes into the view. The popular opinion of Transfer Deadline Day is to baulk at the huge sums and the mercenaries touting themselves from club to club – for Football Manager fans it is an opportunity for one club or another to turn your head for your next save game with an interesting piece of transfer business.
So, I’ve narrowed down my thinking to 11 clubs to potentially manage in Football Manager 2018.
1 Paris Saint Germain – chasing European glory
PSG’s summer transfer business was the big story of the European off-season. Neymar in for a colossal fee and Mbappe signed on an ever-so-slightly crooked loan to buy deal. This adds to the firepower the Parisiens already held with Edinson Cavani and Javier Pastore. Not forgetting Angel Di Maria, Lucas Moura, Marco Veratti, Julian Draxler, etc., etc. Even the Dani Alves signing ended up being swept aside! Are PSG now in a perfect position to push for that elusive Champions League win?
2 AC Milan – a resurgent Rossoneri?
What a summer for Milan! They’ve brought in Andre Silva, Hakan Calhanoglu, Leonardo Bonucci, Lucas Biglia and Franck Kessie but their biggest deal of the summer was almost certainly keeping Gianluigi Donnarumma at the club! Is it time to break Juve’s dominance and regain the Serie A title for the first time since 2011? And if that’s not enough to sway it for you – Milan also signed Fabio Borini… hello, are you still there?
3 Everton – time to step out of the Merseyside shadows
It hasn’t quite happened for them in real life this season yet, but many FM players were salivating at Everton’s pre-season transfer business and who wouldn’t? Wayne Rooney is home, Jordan Pickford and Michael Keane have been great additions to strengthen the defensive end of the pitch. Davy Klaassen and Gylfi Sigurdsson will add some style to a midfield that already has substance. Can Sandro Ramirez replace the goals they’ve lost in the sale of Romelu Lukaku?
4 Swansea City – life after Gylfi…
Swansea’s sale of Gylfi Sigurdsson has left a massive hole in the Welsh Side’s midfield. They only went and pulled off a deal to set FM players salivating – Wonderkid Renato Sanches on a season-long loan. They’ve also brought in Roque Mesa – the man oft described as The Xavi of the Canary Islands, by someone I’m sure! Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham is in on a season-long loan too but that’s not all – Wilfried Bony is home! After a disappointing 6 goals in 36 appearances (mostly as a sub), the Ivorian has returned to South Wales. Paul Clement also brought in Claude Makelele to the backroom staff, so if all else fails at least you can find out if the rumours about him in the showers are true.
5 Crystal Palace – teaching an old dog new tricks
Football social media went into meltdown when Frank de Boer was axed from the Eagles’ hotseat after just four league games in charge. Palace have gone back to what is considered “safe territory” with a stereotypically English appointment in Roy Hodgson. Can you take over at Selhurst Park and show them they were wrong to fail give de Boer time to mould his squad? Jairo Riedewald and Mamadou Sakho are in and they will allow you to play the ball out from the back. There’s a plethora of tricks and thrills in midfield with Andros Townsend and Wilfried Zaha. Perhaps the key to making Palace tick is getting the best out of Christian Benteke? At the very least, surely you’ll last longer than poor Frank’s 10 weeks in charge.
6 Benevento Calcio – a fresh sight in Serie A
The Serie A newcomers provide a really interesting challenge – can you take this band of almost certain relegation candidates and guide them to safety? Last season Benevento completed their second successive league promotion, taking them to the highest tier of Italian football. Promoted too soon? It’s one of those inherent dangers for football manager players. What is your game plan here – shut up shop and hope to nick the odd big scalp to secure your Serie A status or do you go out and attempt to impose your own dominance on the league? And who wouldn’t want to manage a team nicknamed ‘Wizards’…
7 Istanbul Basaksehir – battling it out in Istanbul
Last season’s Superlig runners-up are a Football Manager player’s dream. The team has a strong spine with plenty of personality: Gael Clichy, Emre Belozoglu and Eljero Elia among others., but surely the biggest of all is Emmanuel Adebayor. If you can get the best out of Ade then you’ll surely have no problem in becoming a dominant force in Turkish football. Domestically you’ll have to contend with the other Big Three in Istanbul of Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce. In Europe, can you equal and then eclipse Galatasaray as the only Turkish team to win a European trophy?
8 Zenit St Petersburg – an Argentine revolution in Russia
Zenit raised eyebrows across the world during the summer by securing five interesting South American signings. There’s plenty of potential in Emanuel Mammana, Leandro Paredes, Matias Kranevitter, Emiliano Rigoni and Sebastian Driussi. This doesn’t mean you should forget about the domestic talent with players like Yuri Zhirkov, Aleksander Kokorin and Artem Dzyuba giving you real selection headaches. Can you bring a South American style of play to the underlooked platform of Russian football and push to have Russian teams be a danger in Continental competition?
9 FC Nurnberg – a long fallen giant
Once upon a time, FC Nurnberg were a big-time player in the old German Football Championship. Sadly, things are not that way anymore. Der Club (no, really, that’s a nickname) hold the record for the most relegations from the Bundesliga with 8! The squad has a nice mixture of youth and experience and with a 50,000 capacity stadium, the perfect foundations for a return to the big time! The only senior club in Nuremberg, you can draw upon the whole city for support as you grow attendances along with the sporting growth of the club.
10 Ajax – football’s talent conveyer belt
Now is as perfect a time as any to take the reins at Ajax. The Amsterdam club have undergone n exodus of top rated players over the summer with the loss of Davy Klaassen, Kenny Tete, Jairo Riedewald and Davinson Sanchez. Ajax, being what it is, will never be short of talent to replace talent. Hakim Ziyech will be your main playmaker on the pitch but the summer arrivals of Siem de Jong and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar add some priceless experience to the wealth of youth Ajax always hold. Ajax haven’t held the Eredivisie title since 2014, is now the time to claim back the throne?
11 SC Bastia – the ultimate rebuilding job
At the end of last season Bastia suffered disaster by finishing bottom of Ligue 1 and taking relegation to Ligue 2. Further disaster struck in the aftermath of the season when Bastia were handed a further relegation for financial reasons to Championnat National 3. This has all the hallmarks of a great save: long-term rebuilding of a former UEFA Cup runner-up, getting them back onto a sound financial footing and challenging the bad boys of PSG when top-flight football returns to the Corsican club. What’s not to love?!